The University of Life

January 15, 2004 ,

AN ability to play pool or snooker is supposed to be evidence of a misspent youth in the University of Life.

In my case it was probably too much time spent in the student union and not enough time in the University library.

Still I didn’t expect to win the House of Commons pool competition this week.
Yes I know MPs should spend every waking minute on duty, but after a 10 ½ hour day, everyone needs a break (if you excuse the pun).

Anyway there was £1500 available for the winner’s chosen good cause, so the Muscular Dystrophy Charity PPUK, which was founded in Cardiff, will greatly benefit for little effort on my part.

During working hours, however, discussion of university top up fees has dominated.
Even if the government wins the big vote there will be many more votes as parliament examines the bill in more detail.

The proposals have been significantly improved by increasing grants to poorer students, and abolishing up-front fees.

But, I want to see a system that puts more money into the pockets of students from less well off backgrounds, who are woefully underrepresented in our universities.

Writing off some of the fees at a future date doesn’t pay pressing bills now.
Instead why not give students from poorer backgrounds a much larger a year up front grant?

Then if they are earning a good salary after university they won’t resent making a contribution to the fee cost.

Too many talented youngsters from poorer families only ever get to study at the University of Life.
I’m still unhappy that the fees are being made variable despite the manifesto, so the Government has to do more to show it is serious about helping poorer students